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12 April 2010

Ray Charles On Kraft Music Hall: Dinah Shore Presents The Nashville Sound (1967)

L: with Dinah. R; with Eddy Arnold, Johnny Mercer
and Dinah.

The Kraft Music Hall started as a radio program that aired on NBC's radio network from 1933 until 1949. In its many years on television The Kraft Music Hall went through many format changes. Between 1963 and 1967 NBC aired five or six Kraft Music Hall specials a year with guest hosts. On 22 November 1967 (season 10, show #9) Dinah Shore hosted The Nashville Sound special. She did a duet with Ray Charles (You Are My Sunshine), and Ray performed Yesterday and Crying Time. The TV section of a newspaper also announced that "the whole cast [including Ray?] performs a country hit parade medley at the close".
The TV page of the Oswego Palladium from 22 November 1967 decribed the program as "an hourlong tribute to the new recording center of the world. [...] The Stony Mountain Cloggers do their bit; the Everly Brothers perform; Johnny Mercer joins Dinah for Moon River, and solos to his country song Gentle On My Mind; Ray Charles sings Yesterday, duets to Cryin[g] Time with Dinah; and the whole cast performs a country hit parade medley at the close." 

Here's the audio (and some video of the) complete sequence:

The BBC documentary Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me (2009), used footage from this same Kraft Music Hall show. Ray is seen sitting at his piano, doing a cross talk with Dinah, playing the first notes of Georgia, when Johnny Mercer walks in, claiming (sort of) his role in a duet on that song (starts at 4:10):

To mark the 100th anniversary of Johnny Mercer's birth in 1909, the Clint Eastwood documentary Johnny Mercer - The Dream's On Me presented the life and work of Johnny Mercer through new performances by and interviews by with Tony Bennett, Dr. John, Julie Andrews, Jamie Cullum, André Previn, and many others. The album included performances from the film plus Johnny Mercer favorites performed by Ray Charles (doing Blues In The Night), Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Bing Crosby, Bono, and many more.
A reviewer on Amazon came with a piece of information that I found hard to believe: "There is a non-Mercer song clip in the show, him singing Carmichael's Georgia On My Mind with Ray Charles."
There was a historical connection between the two singers and this song, though - read this.

CD: Watertower Music, 3 November 2009, ASIN: B002O1CCPY.
DVD: Turner Home Entertainment, 8 December 2009, ASIN: B002LII6E6.

Read this for an earlier gig in another Kraft Music Hall format

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